Message to Barnet UNISON Library workers – John Burgess

recruiting on a picket line

recruiting on a picket line

To Barnet UNISON Library workers

I wanted to provide you with an update following a meeting with management on Monday 12th September 2016.

Firstly I requested an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive so I can raise my concerns about the proposals and present again another option that negates the need to implement this destruction of the Barnet Library service.  I am due to meet him on Monday 26 September at 10 am. I will report back on this meeting later that week.

I have also requested an urgent meeting with the Leader of the Council. I believe that the proposed destruction of the Library Service is unnecessary and can be avoided.

In our union meeting last week I mentioned that I had seen the agency/consultancy paid by Barnet Council. Below is the agency/consultancy spend for the past four years and at a time when the size of the council workforce is shrinking year on year with outsourcing and redundancies.

  • 2012/13 £12,526,943
  • 2013/14 £13,775,546
  • 2014/15 £15,538,090
  • 2015/16 £17,907,052

In 2015/16 the agency spend increased to £17,907,052

In the first quarter of this financial year the Council has already paid out £6.9 million which, if it continues could see the Council break £20 million on agency/consultants.

In my view the Councils agency/consultancy costs are out of control and as you can all see it is increasing year on year.

The contractors providing agency workers and consultants will charge a commission to the Council. Looking at the figures over the last four years the commission paid to contractors would easily pay the Library savings.

The Council may respond that they are able to stop this escalation and are putting in systems and controls on spend. Well I’m afraid they said that before. Last autumn a resident John Dix asked a question about agency spend and he was told “agency levels should fall by 15% by the end of 2015/16.” (read full response here)

As you can see the spend for 2015/16 was £17,907,052

My offer on the negotiating table is quite simple.

Drop the current proposal and work with staff, residents on building and developing all of the Libraries in Barnet including plans to develop further in response to the rapid growth in the local population.

The savings required by the Library service will be generated by tackling the out of control agency/consultancy spend.

Last week two messages of support were given by Jeremy Corbyn

You can view the message from Jeremy here

and John here

Strike action

Hugh Jordan will be back week commencing 26 September and a message will be going out in relation to the next strike action we discussed last week in the event the Council continue with their planned destruction.

Barnet UNISON Petition for Library workers

Please sign, get family and friends to sign

5th November demo

Be ready to join this national demonstration you can leave comments on facebook link here

Links to Library destruction

‘It is not a transformation, it is a destruction’ – Barnet’s UNISON branch call to save library jobs

A Library without staff what could possibly go wrong?

Austerity for whom – in Barnet Council?

Barnet UNISON: Further Response to the Library Restructure Staff Consultation

Social Media

You can follow @Barnet_Unison on Twitter

Barnet UNISON Face Book here


John Burgess

Branch Secretary




Austerity for whom – in Barnet Council?



Thanks to Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable for tracking all Barnet Council payments over £500. The data is produced every quarter on the Council web site. All Council must publish this data.

In 2012 Barnet Council employed 2784 staff and consultant spend was £7,732, 269

In 2016 Barnet Council employs 1633 staff and consultant spend was £17, 907,052

For the first quarter of this year Barnet Council has spent £6,926,170 if this is pattern continues the Council could break £20,000,000 on agency/consultancy spend.

On Monday 12 September all Barnet Library staff were brought together to be told that 46% of staff will be sacked.

They are being sacked because this was the only way Barnet Council says they can save £2.85 million

I want to be clear on where Barnet UNISON stand on this disgraceful attack on the Barnet Library service.

This is not a transformation this an expensive destruction of an excellent Library service that only this year received a 93% customer satisfaction rating.

It is simply not sustainable for any politician in Barnet Council to continue to promote Austerity in one of the richest boroughs in London. Furthermore the rapidly growing population of Barnet makes a mockery of the destructive decimation of the Barnet Library service. We need to talking about increasing the Library Service not cutting and making it less safe for children and less accessible for people with disabilities.

The answer is clear for anyone who want to see.

Barnet UNISON has historically challenged senior officers  in Barnet on their dependence on agency/consultancy, each year a new set of senior officers sit round the table and nod and agree that it needs addressing.

But take another look at the figures. They are increasing each year and at the same time the council work force is shrinking.

Then there are the ongoing redundancy payments Barnet Council is funding and remember this Barnet Council also funded the redundancy costs of the hundreds of jobs lost when Capita took over Council services in 2013 and moved jobs to Belfast, Blackburn, Carlisle etc.

Something is seriously wrong.

For the sake of all frontline services which includes social care and Libraries, Barnet Council need to drop the “outsourcing ideology” and tackle the agency/consultancy spend.

It’s not too late, drop the destructive plans for Barnet Library Service and let’s rebuild and support a frontline service that has the backing of Barnet residents.

Initial Response to Libraries Review Staff Consultation, 28th July 2016

Barnet UNISON response to Barnet Council sacking 46% of Library workers

UNIFIED PAY UPDATE 13 September 2016


To: All Barnet UNISON members employed directly by Barnet Council (including schools) only.

Contact details:

Members can contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email


I know that before the summer there was a lot of pressure placed on staff to submit appeals even if they were unsure of the grounds. I can advise all of our members that as long as they have registered the appeal and notified the branch then they will have a 1:1, or a group meeting if the appeal is a collective appeal, with UNISON. Once you have met with UNISON, depending on the agreed way forward, UNISON will deal directly with the Unified pay team and HR. If you are unsure about any of the advice please contact the branch.

Submit your Appeals

Please submit your Appeal to Unified Reward Team, HR Building 4, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP.

Collective issues

For example where there are number of workers with the same job description all raising the same issue for example Nursery Nurses, TA’s on 52 week contracts, Coach Escorts. Meal Time Supervisors.

Individual issues.

There can be a myriad of issues,  which is why it is important that UNISON members with any concerns make urgent contact with the UNISON office

There are two groups of workers Barnet UNISON is currently supporting.

1. Council corporate workforce (not schools)

Over the summer break I have been meeting with some of our members to discuss the details of their issues. These have been a mixture of collective and individual issues. Individual issues will need to be dealt with in 1:1 meetings with UNISON. If you have an individual issue and you have not yet been contacted by UNISON, please contact the branch.

Below is a brief overview of the collective issues in the various Service Delivery Units which I am pushing to be resolved over the next few weeks.

 Street Scene

I have had meetings with HR and management to look at the following roles

  • Coach Escorts
  • Commercial Vehicle Technicians
  • Waste & Recycling drivers


There are a number of individual appeals/issues

Two local agreements covering Weekend Working and Practice Teaching payments have been signed off


I have begun discussions with HR about a number of posts which will befollwoing up with individual members in due course.

Family Services

  • Duty Support Officer
  • Personal Advisor

The above roles have been the subject of a number of discussions as to how to move forward.

The Library service has recently submitted a local agreement for Sunday working payments,  which is due to be signed off.

2. Council school staff (does not include Faith, Voluntary Aided schools and Academies)

The UNISON school team is now available to support members. Louis Smyth on Mondays & Tuesdays, and Nadia Joseph on Fridays during Term Time.

The following posts are subject to collective appeals with discussions due to start with the Council. If you are in one of the posts below and you are projected to lose pay in April 2018 it is important that you submit the appeal form before 19 September and send a copy to the UNISON office.

  • Nursery Nurses (retainer issue)
  • Teaching Assistants (52 week contract issue)
  • Meal Time Supervisors

 If you have any issues that are not included in the above three roles please submit the appeal form before 19 September and send a copy to the UNISON office.


3. Do I need to sign or not sign my new contract?

Barnet Council has already issued all its corporate staff (not schools) with new contracts following the Unified Pay agreement.

The letter accompanying the contract asks staff to sign the new contract detailing the new Terms & Conditions.

Whilst the majority of workers will have no concerns about signing the new contract there are some who will want to seek advice before signing.

For example any worker who is querying their new grade or the content of the Terms & Conditions.

I have spoken to the Council and no worker will be told they have to sign the contract immediately.

Please make sure you keep a copy of your contract in a safe place.

If you are in doubt ring the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email in order we can provide some advice.

If anyone feels they are being forced into signing the contract please make urgent contact with the UNISON office.

**** SCHOOLS STAFF. At some point Barnet Council issue new contracts to all their school staff, when the branch is notified we will alert our members to the above advice.






Contact details:

Members can contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email



Further Response to the Library Restructure Staff Consultation

Further Response to the Library Restructure Staff Consultation

Call for Extension

 Barnet UNISON repeats the call for an extension of the Staff Consultation period, while acknowledging that the Council did not limit this to the legal minimum of 45 days. However, our members have not received all the information they have requested during the consultation period. Neither has Barnet UNISON to date received responses to all points we have raised.

Our members still await answers to questions regarding their pensions and other financial matters. Some members have not had the 1 to 1 meeting with their managers and HR to which they are entitled. This lack of information makes it difficult for our members to take the important decisions that the restructure will impose.

UNSON also has concerns over the nature of the 1 to 1 sessions. These should be conducted so colleagues can learn how the proposed restructure will affect them and in order to have their specific personal and wider concerns answered. However, questions are being put to Library staff by the Council regarding the rationale of the library cuts and they are being asked for alternatives to the library cuts. This is not the forum for the Council to ask individual members of staff these questions, many of whom will already find the 1 to 1 meetings a difficult and stressful process. » Read more

IMPORTANT: Unified Pay update 5 September 2016

Unified Pay

Dear UNISON members

Do I need to sign or not sign my new contracts?

Barnet Council is issuing all its staff with new contracts following the Unified Pay agreement.

The letter asks staff to sign the new contract detailing the new Terms & Conditions.

Whilst the majority of workers will have no concerns about signing the new contract there are some who will want to seek advice before signing.

For example any worker who is querying their new grade or the content of the Terms & Conditions.

I have spoken to the Council and no worker will be told they have to sign the contract immediately.

Please make sure you keep a copy of your contract in a safe place.

If you are in doubt ring the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email in order we can provide some advice.

If anyone feels they are being forced into signing the contract please make urgent contact with the UNISON office.

Schools staff

I have been advised that new contracts for all Barnet Council schools staff are going out later, but the advice as above will also apply. As soon as we know the date Barnet Council will be issuing new contracts we will be in touch again.

Help with understanding Unified Pay

We do understand that some of the communication from the Council has been confusing which is why Barnet UNISON wants to make sure all of our members have an opportunity to understand what the agreement will mean for them individually.

I am leading on Appeals together with other trained UNISON reps for our members and 1 to 1 meetings are already being arranged.

If you have not yet formally registered your appeal/concerns please inform the council at Unified Reward helpline on 0330 606 4444 (option 1) or email or and send a copy of your appeal/concerns to the UNISON office.

Collective issues.

For some staff, for example Coach Escorts and Nursery Nurses there are shared collective issues for all of the staff in that particular role; in which case we will be acting on behalf of all of our members in each of these particular roles. It would be helpful for our records and preparation that members in these roles provide UNISON with a copy of their letters.

Time for you.

It is important to let all of our members that we have time to meet and discuss options, whilst the Council has changed the deadlines for Appeals, there is a willingness from the Council for each member of staff to have the right to raise their appeal/concerns. The procedure being followed is UNISON meetings are being scheduled with before a meeting is organised with the Council.



John Burgess

Branch Secretary


BREAKING NEWS: National UNISON backing 5 November demo

“We have just received the following statement from UNISON. Now lets build this demonstration, lets make so much noise Austerity will not be able to silence all of our voices about the brutal reality of austerity to our public services that all of us love. Solidarity see you all on the 5th November” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

UNISON is taking part in the UK demonstration for Libraries, Museums and Galleries in support of the thousands of our members working in them across the UK. Libraries, museums and workers providing the services have suffered damaging cuts since 2010 under the Coalition and Conservative governments’ ‘austerity’ regime. If this continues, they will be destroyed as a critical local service.

25% of library jobs have been lost in the last six years, nearly 350 libraries closed and over 170 handed over to “community groups” and volunteers and yet more cuts are being planned.

This is not just devastating to the 8000 library workers who have been deprived of their income and careers, but also a loss to the UK nations as a whole. Library cuts mean:

· Our communities are increasingly being denied the use of the skills, knowledge and experience of library workers.
· People across the country are losing free access to information, education and entertainment both printed and digital.
· Children’s literacy is being hampered as access to library books and librarians and other library professionals is reduced.
· Job seekers and young peoplelosing the opportunity to improve skills and search for jobs using the free information, training and use of ICT in Libraries
· Social isolation increased for many people who rely on libraries for human contact and interaction

Yet libraries and museums remain much used and loved public services. Nearly a third of all adults in the UK visited a library in the twelve months ending September 2015, rising to nearly 40% of women and around 50% of Black and ethnic minority people.**

UNISON supports the Demonstration on the 5th of November in support of ourlibrary and museum workers and a public service vital to our communitie

s. Please join us.

Heather Wakefield National Secretary Local Government, Police and Justice Section


Jeremy Corbyn pledge to end term time pay in schools

teaching assistants - pay

“I recently had the honour of meeting the Durham Teaching Assistants at the Durham Miners Gala this year. I fully support their campaign to stop the proposal to move them to term time pay, a decision which could plunge this valued workforce into poverty.
“The government must commit to providing the funding to employ teaching assistants every week of the year, recognising the crucial work these dedicated public servants do in our society.


“It is a simple fact that the vast majority of school workers employed on so-called term-time contracts are women, who are effectively paid for just ten months of the year. It is in my opinion unacceptable that Equal Pay legislation is being used as a tool to attack a largely female workforce.

“My friend and comrade Davy Hopper, General Secretary, Durham Miners’ Association, who passed away only last week said: “Education is one of the most important public services we have and frankly it is unbelievable that a Labour Authority is behaving in this way. They should immediately start renegotiating with the Teaching Assistants and sort out this mess. My solidarity is with the Teaching Assistants.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris “I whole-heartedly oppose the decision to substantially cut the income of low paid teaching assistants and I’m appalled that the council would threaten to dismiss and re-engage. The Government must now step up to the plate and commit to funding the wages of teaching assistants all year.”
“I give this commitment that I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with UNISON’s campaign agreed at their conference this year to end the imposition of term time pay and for school workers across the UK to be employed during every week of the year.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Labour Party

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